Best of the Decade: Burger King's Whopper Spot Begins on TV But Ends on Google Home

Fast Feeder Leveraged A.I. to Complete Its Message

Published On
Jun 20, 2017

Editor's Pick

Creativity looks back on the brand ideas and campaigns that made the last decade. See the full lineup here

Best of the Decade

In the last decade, under the leadership of marketers like Global CMO Fernando Machado, Burger King was always ready to experiment with the tech du jour or tap into cultural topics you wouldn’t likely expect a fast feeder to partake in (like anti-bullying, mental health or net neutrality). 

Among the most notable highlights of the past decade were the brand’s invitation to McDonald’s to create a co-branded McWhopper in the name of world peace (leading to numerous accolades), via Y&R New Zealand as well as the multi-Grand Prix-winning “Whopper Detour” from FCB New York  that offered fans one-cent Whoppers—but only when they were at or near a McDonald’s. 

There was also another Google Home of the Whopper," which featured a 15-second TV spot in which a BK server calls on Google Home devices to elaborate on the Whopper, via its Wikipedia entry. Soon after the ad aired, Google disabled it, but BK and David went on to release tweaked versions of the ad that would trigger the device once again.

The Google Home campaign earned the Grand Prix in the Direct Category at Cannes. Is rogue approach of "hacking" new technology was reminiscent of the previous and also much-celebrated "Whopper Sacrifice" out of CP&B.

Original story

Cannes Lions' 2017 Marketer of the Year Burger King has experienced a creative renaissance of late with ideas ranging from the lo-fi (like a stunt in which one of its restaurants "dressed up" as a McDonald's for Halloween) to the hi-tech )as one recent activation that allows gamers to order real BK from inside a Playstation video game). The brand today just made another unusual move that falls into the latter camp -- bu viewers needed a Google Home device to experience it.

Burger King, along with its agency David Miami, created a 15-second ad, running nationally, in which a BK server talks about the Whopper—but the spot's limited time-frame didn't allow him to say much. No worries, since at the end of it, the server summoned Google to elaborate on his story. The device then proceeded to recite the Wikipedia description of the fast feeder's most famous burger (See how "Connected Whopper" was supposed to work in this this demo film.)

But within hours after its debut, Google disabled the device from responding to the ad. Acccording to The Verge, it's likely that Google registered a sound clip from the spot to ensure it wouldn't activate Home triggers just as it does with its own spots. When a person in real life asks about the Whopper, however, Google Home will still provide the top Wikipedia entry.

The idea was created out of BK's U.S. agency David Miami. The outcome is reminiscent of another iconic "win/fail" between Burger King and a tech giant, the "Whopper Sacrifice" campaign from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, which asked Facebook users to unfried people for free burgers. The campaign, apparently, didn't abide by Facebook privacy rules, but instead of making changes that dramatically departed from the campaign's original intent, BK and its agency CP&B killed it altogether.

It makes you wonder if BK had something like this in mind from the get go.

Agency David referred questions about the ad's deactivation to Burger King, and BK confirmed that Google Home's response to the ad above was indeed disabled.

This story has been updated to reflect Google's move and the client and agency responses.